A Guide To Selecting The Best Used Cars Under $10,000

In my preceding article, ” A Guide To Selecting The Best Used Car”, I listed my personal criteria for finding the best used car in the $10,000 and up price range. My criteria is based on over forty five years of buying and selling cars and over 17 years of selling new and used cars for a dealer. I do hope that you found the article interesting and informative. This article focuses on the buying of a used car less than $10,000, and, as you will see, most of the same criteria apply.

Because of my background in selling Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans, I firmly believe that these brands offer the consumer the “best reliability factor.” Also, very respected magazines such as Consumer Reports gives the highest reliability ratings to Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia. I mention this because when purchasing a used car under $10,000, reliability in the long run is extremely important. Many buyers prefer GM, Ford and Chrysler and that’s fine. The criteria that I list in this article applies to all brands and all models. As an example, if you are looking at a 2007 Jeep Wrangler, it is very important to research the car. Does the Jeep have the right mileage for a 2007 Jeep Wrangler? Are you able to get a Car Fax on the vehicle? Check the interior and exterior condition and of course have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the car.

If you are looking for a $2000 to $4000 car, the first advise I have is to be very careful. A car that sells in this price range is usually 8 – 15 years old and most likely has accumulated many miles. The most important thing is to have a trusted, qualified mechanic inspect the car to make sure it is in good running order. No one wants to buy a car only to find it needs $500 or more in repairs to get it back on the road.

I realize that purchasing any car is, to some people, an emotional decision, and that reliability may not play as important a role in the buyer’s purchasing decision. I experienced this as a salesman. People are spending a lot of money for a car and they want the car that excites them. My main point here is to keep in mind that I am guiding you to buying the best used car under $10,000.

So, when purchasing a used car or truck for $10,000 or less, these are the most important factors to consider:

1.  Road test the car

Road testing a used car, in any price range, is vitally important. Even more so for a car that is in this price range. It is a tricky thing to know how the car was maintained unless the buyer obtains a Car Fax. One of the negatives of purchasing an older car from a private party is that the seller may not have service records of previous owners of the car. Have a mechanic road test the car to listen for pings and noises that might indicate mechanical problems.

2.  ESC – Electronic Stability Control

3.  ABS – Anti-lock braking system

4.  Appropriate mileage for the model year

For example, a 2010 car should have around 96,000 miles on it. The formula is 12,000 miles per year.

5.  A thorough mechanical inspection by a trusted, reliable and  qualified mechanic.

6.  A car fax (if purchasing from a dealer)

7.  Reliable Dealer


I prefer purchasing a used car from a dealer because the car (depending on age) will have a dealer and state warranty. Also, the dealer has serviced the car to make sure it is mechanically sound. The dealer has reconditioned the car, checked the engine and transmission, inspected the suspension, brakes, steering and cooling system and checked that the tires have good tread. A good used car dealer will only sell a car if it is in the best operating condition because of reputation and cost management. If you do intend to buy a car from a private party, be extremely cautious. Remember you are buying the car “as is.”

Listed below are the 10 most reliable used cars under $10,000, as determined by U.S. News and World Report.

Model Reliability Average Price Score
2009 Hyundai Genesis 5/5 $8051 9.5/10
2008 Mercedes Benz E-Class 4/5 $9368 9.5/10
2010 Ford Fusion 5/5 $7548 9.3/10
2008 Acura RL 5/5 $8410 8.9/10
2009 Audi A3 5/5 $7747 9.2/10
2010 Lexus ES 5/5 $8781 9.3/10
2007 Honda Accord 4.5/5 $5002 9.3/10
2010 Mazda Miata 5/5 $9794 9.1/10
2009 Saturn Outlook 5/5 $7329 9.2/10
2009 Toyota Sienna 5/5 $9432 9.2/10

Listed below are the 10 most reliable used cars under $10,000, as determined by Consumer Reports.

Compact Cars

Pontiac Vibe 2008 – 2010
Toyota Matrix 2008 – 2010
Kia Soul 2010 – 2012
Mazda 3 2009 – 2012
Toyota Corolla 2008 – 2011
Toyota Prius 2008 – 2009

Sedan Cars:

Mazda 6 2009 – 2011
Honda Accord 2008 – 2009
Toyota Camry 2008 – 2009

Summary:

In my opinion, for all car buyers searching for a used car $10,000 or less, the following are the most important things to do:

  1. Road test the car
  2. If possible, buy a car with ESC – Electronic Stability Control
  3. Buy a car with ABS – Antilock Braking System
  4. Buy a car with the appropriate mileage
  5. Have the car thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic
  6. If purchasing from dealer, obtain a Car Fax
  7. Purchase from a reliable dealer
  8. Remember that reliability is just as important as affordability
  9. Check with Kelley Blue Book for used car pricing
  10.  

By following the guidelines above, you are insuring that you purchase the best car possible within your budget.

Happy Motoring!

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com, and Vividracing.com.


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